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iOS15 and What it Means for the Future of Email Marketing

At a recent event, Apple launched the new iPhone 13 and a new Apple Watch. At the same time they launched the new iOS 15. The tech giant went on to explain the new features and changes in their latest operating system and updates like Hide My Email and other new privacy features have left advertisers panicking. These updates are set to come into effect in September 2021. So, what are these new updates and how will they affect the future of email marketing?

Changes Introduced in iOS15

Apple has been committed to limiting user data tracking features as much as possible. With their last update users had the option to opt out of sharing their data with individual applications and this latest update gives users more privacy options. The three primary changes being introduced and how they will affect marketers are:

  • The Hide My Email feature – this will allow users to hide their real email address with a fake one,
  • The mail privacy protection will prevent accurate tracking of email open rates,
  • The private relay feature will protect the user’s IP address while they are browsing the internet.

How do These Changes Affect Marketers?

These changes will make it impossible for marketers to have the access to data that they have previously had. It is safe to assume that 30-50% of an email list are accessing their emails on an Apple device. It is also fair to assume that almost all of them would opt for the new privacy option which will give users two choices:

‘Protect mail activity – hide IP address and privately load all remote content.’

‘Don’t protect mail activity – show IP address and load any remote content directly onto your device.’

This will make it extremely difficult for email marketers to get a clear estimate of open rates, one of the most effective metrics for understanding the ROI in email marketing.

How do Open Rates Work?

A tiny invisible image embedded in the email code is what is used to track open rates. The minute the email is opened and the image loads, the sender is notified that the email was opened. The new Mail Privacy Protection will pre-load the image and all other script and code data as soon as the email is received, making it impossible to check if the email was actually opened.

With the new iOS15 operating system rolling out soon, email marketers will find higher open rates that are not accurate due to the new setting rolled out by Apple. This means measuring open rates will no longer be the main metric for measuring engagement and return on investment.

The non-accuracy of open rates will also hinder AB testing. This means that it will be impossible to find out which subject line works better and who your most engaged followers are. The lack of this data will also affect email segmentation making it impossible to retarget those who opened a previous email on the same subject.

What can Email Marketers do Instead?

In order to have a clearer understanding of the effectiveness of email marketing campaigns, marketers will have to move away from open rate data. Since open rate data will not be accurate in the future, marketers should look at the following metrics to measure engagement on their email campaigns:

  • Clickthrough rates
  • Website Visitors
  • Signups for webinars and events
  • Shares on social media
  • Purchases and orders

These metrics will give you a better and more accurate picture of the effectiveness of your email campaign.

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